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October 14, 2009
Mapping out refugees and asylum seekers worldwide

In our show tonight, we take a look at Indonesia, where hundreds of Sri Lankan asylum seekers who fled the violence back home are now threatening to blow themselves up. We also explore how police have mounted operations to wipe out makeshift camps around Calais in northern France. Hamish MacDonald reports on the predominantly Afghan migrants for Al Jazeera English.

There are estimates of 16 million total refugees and asylum seekers living throughout the world. Refugees fall under the responsibility of different global agencies. There are 10.5 million refugees under the auspices of UNHCR, while UNRWA has responsibility for the estimated 4.7 million Palestinian refugees.

Image courtesy of UNHCR.

Four-fifths of all refugees come from the developed world and almost half of all refugees under UNHCR’s responsibility are from Afghanistan and Iraq. According to UNHCR, one out of every four refugees in the world is from Afghanistan.

It is estimated that half of the world’s refugees are living in urban areas, while one-third live in refugee camps, according to the UNHCR. Africa and Asia contribute the most the numbers of refugees, as shown in the graphic above.

See UNHCR’s full 2009 Global Trends report for more information.

Pakistan is host to the largest number of refugees worldwide (1.8 million), followed by the Syria (1.1 million) and Iran (980,000).

There were 16 countries that reported allowing the resettlement of some 88,000 refugees in 2008, according to government reports. The United States accepted the highest number of refugees (60,200). In addition, 604,000 refugees voluntarily returned to their home countries in 2008.

Image courtesy of UNHCR.

According to UNHCR there were 827,000 asylum seekers in 2008.

Image courtesy of UNHCR.

Throughout the world, there are an estimated 26 million internally displaced persons. IDPs generally flee their homes for the same reasons as refugees (armed conflict, human rights violations and war), but they remain within their native country and are technically protected by the law of that country.

For an excellent, detailed explanation of global human displacement, look at the Guardian’s map.

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Great article.
These people wouldn’t be ‘refugees’ if the International Community hadn’t kept Cold-Heartedly-Silent when Sri Lanka Sinhalese Army was bombarding the places where these people were living in. The Sinhala Sri Lanka State also cut essential food & medicine to the Tamils and holds them in concentration camps now. We need to focus on the CAUSE of the problem, not their end result.

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